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What books could help? (OT on writing)

posted by Anakin Skywalker on - last edited - Viewed by 182 users

A question:
If I wanted to write a KQ-esque story, or even a good Hobbit-esque fairy tale yarn, what novels or resource books would you recommend?

Roberta mentioned that when writing KQ games, she goes to:

"books on mysterious places and imaginary things; The Brothers Grimm, myths and legends, Victorian fairy tales, puzzle books, codes and ciphers and ancient inventions. I start reading them and take lots and lots of notes, always coming up with plenty of story scenarios. Then I pick the ones I like(d) best and (go) with them."

What sort of "puzzle books, codes and ciphers" would she be referring to? Any recommendations? How I'd love if we could get a glimpse of her book shelf, to see what books (besides the Green Fairy book) she took inspiration from. I want to become a storyteller myself, having the lit by JRR Tolkien recently.

What do you imagine to be on Roberta's and Jane Jensen's book shelves used for reference guides when they wrote their stories?

I'd want to work in a more fairy-tale-esque vein, but still High Fantasy.

12 Comments - Linear Discussion: Classic Style
  • Nothing against her at all, but you probably don't want to be taking writing advice from Roberta Williams. She basically plagiarized from her sources. Jane Jensen was probably working from a bunch of hefty tomes on mythology (Bulfinch's, Ovid's), which I don't think is really what you're looking for.

    If you're seriously interested in writing, read a lot and don't limit yourself to only the niche you are interested in. Still, there's almost endless fantasy literature to read at this point. In terms of classic fantasy I'd recommend Fritz Leiber and Michael Moorcock. More recently, Neil Gaiman and China Mieville do kind of fairy-taleish fantasy, though it's probably a bit different than what you're thinking of. David Eddings wrote fairly 'light' high fantasy, though people have fairly mixed opinions on the quality. I'd also highly recommend the Codex Alera by Jim Butcher (high fantasy based on Roman mythology, basically)

    If you're interested in puzzle solving and riddles, you might check out The Gold Bug by Edgar Allen Poe. There's tons of collections of riddles and such that you can find all over the place though.

  • @KuroShiro said: Nothing against her at all, but you probably don't want to be taking writing advice from Roberta Williams. She basically plagiarized from her sources. Jane Jensen was probably working from a bunch of hefty tomes on mythology (Bulfinch's, Ovid's), which I don't think is really what you're looking for.

    If you're seriously interested in writing, read a lot and don't limit yourself to only the niche you are interested in. Still, there's almost endless fantasy literature to read at this point. In terms of classic fantasy I'd recommend Fritz Leiber and Michael Moorcock. More recently, Neil Gaiman and China Mieville do kind of fairy-taleish fantasy, though it's probably a bit different than what you're thinking of. David Eddings wrote fairly 'light' high fantasy, though people have fairly mixed opinions on the quality. I'd also highly recommend the Codex Alera by Jim Butcher (high fantasy based on Roman mythology, basically)

    If you're interested in puzzle solving and riddles, you might check out The Gold Bug by Edgar Allen Poe. There's tons of collections of riddles and such that you can find all over the place though.

    Thank you for your suggestions. I shall look into them; Gaiman has been heavily recommended by both family and friends alike so I really should read him.

    As to your point about Roberta plagiarizing, aren't most works derivative in some way or another? Even Tolkien drew a lot of his scenarios, many aspects of his mythos, and even many of his character names from Norse and other mythologies, and so many authors have blatantly tried to copy Tolkien as well. I wouldn't call what she did plagiarizing since she took inspiration from a bunch of very different sources and created something very original with it.

  • Read and research primary sources--the fairy tales, the mythology, etc. Then read and research what's already been done on those topics (particularly if you're looking to eventually publish), and what did really well.

    If your actually writing is what you want to work on and hone, take a writing class or join a writing group and get feedback on your work.

    Gaiman is indeed very good, Butcher is great but his work isn't at all similar to early KQ games. Robin McKinley writes some really cool twists on fairy tales, and her language and style are also very fairy tale-esque. Patricia McKillip falls into this category as well.

  • Michael Moorcock. Amazing. *snickers*

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    Vainamoinen Moderator

    First, know your inspirations and try to find the sources of those inspirations. In literature, almost everything draws on older material (that applies especially to Shakespeare ;) ). For example, as you mentioned the Hobbit: The beginning of this tale is almost, quite interestingly, the children's tales of Tolkien's youth pasted together. You could begin with the "Annotated Hobbit" by Douglas A. Anderson.

    Second, learn to write and build a story. Can't really recommend a book on the subject, unfortunately, but there are TONS. Some people love to just start and just see where their story goes (and apparently, Tolkien did in the Hobbit). But in general, I value those stories that were planned in advance. Many TV and movie stories nowadays suffer from a great set-up mystery that obviously came first when the thing was written - but can never have a satisfying resolution.

    Third, bring yourself and your own experiences in. Many modern authors put elements of themselves and their in their characters, exploit their immediate environment for ideas, pick their character's peculiarities from family members and acquaintances. The story might become more lively if you do so. If you're going for an otherworldly feel, the same thing applies, as you're normally rather sure where you want your world to deviate from ours, making the foundation in reality even more important.

    Fourth, you seem to be a bit torn concerning the medium you want to work in. It's of course easier to write a book than to make a game, but if you'd like to cross the borders just a little in Roberta's direction, why not try a book on game design? The one linked to, a fairly new one, is highly recommended by one of my favorite game makers...

    Fifth, if you're twenty or younger, go for it. If you're older, maybe a little literary theory wouldn't hurt. In the last hundreds of years, a vast amount of fiction was written, and it takes a while for an overview (I have a degree in English/German literature... I know the drill ;) ).

  • Seriously if you want to know how Tolkien put his stories together... Read the History of Middle Earth series by his son Christopher Tolkien... It gives you access to the various drafts of his universe in progress...

    There is also History of the Hobbit which covers various drafts of the Hobbit as well...

  • How do you feel about The Lord of the Rings books, in terms of the writing style, story, etc?

  • Why is this in the King's Quest forum?

  • @MusicallyInspired said: Why is this in the King's Quest forum?

    It's off topic.

  • @Anakin Skywalker said: It's off topic.

    Ah, that explains it. ;)

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